President Rodrigo Duterte hailed Monday the Chinese government for its continuing efforts to improve and strengthen ties with the Philippines.
President Duterte praised China led by its President Xi Jinping in front of a crowd of Filipino-Chinese businessmen thanking them for their significant contributions to the country particularly in times of crisis.
“I’d like to thank the Filipino Chinese, especially, community for their untiring toil to help the entire nation in the so many catastrophes and crises that we had faced in the past,” the President said in his speech during the 10th Biennial National Convention and the 20th Founding Anniversary of the Chinese-Filipino Business Club, Inc. (CFBCI).
Duterte recognized the help of China as well as Russia especially when local terrorists attacked and occupied Marawi City last year. The two countries provided weapons and ammunitions to the military during the five-month long siege.
Duterte lauded President Xi for having been “exceedingly very good” to the Philippines citing various assistance and support he has given the country, which contributed to the country’s development.
“So why would be a concern of any Filipino giving his misgivings about my contacts with the Chinese government and Russian government? And as a matter of fact, hanggang ngayon ni singko sentimos wala silang hinihingi sa akin,” he stressed.
“And the Chinese government to show its goodwill, not because they are afraid but because they want to maintain good relations with everybody — not only in the Philippines. They are building us two bridges for free, walang bayad,” he added.
Duterte then discussed the conflicting claims in the South China Sea noting how the fast-changing geopolitics has been shaping everything in the region.
“In front of the Ambassador, I’d tell you, we will insist but what would be the components of our demands and our insistence. Well, we can only be diplomatic,” he said referring to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, who was present during the event.
“We can only be talking on friendly and civilized terms. We cannot go there, ride in our whatever, Navy, the gray ships, the Coast Guard and start waving our rifles. We cannot do that today. It is unrealistic. It cannot be true,” he added.
The plight of overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) was also mentioned by the President reiterating his appeal to Kuwait and other Arab countries to treat OFWs in their countries with dignity and respect.
Despite some opposition, he insisted that the deployment ban in Kuwait will remain and that he may opt to expand it.
“Will it involve hardships? Yes. Will it involve sacrifice? Yes. Would it mean anger? Yes. To me, yes. Tanggapin ko lahat. I’m ready to admit everything but the ban stands,” he said.
“Umuwi lang kayo dito maski na papaano matulungan ko kayo maski sa pagkain. And maybe in the fullness of God’s time, if we can really improve the economy, I could give you livelihood projects,” he added.
He said the Department of Trade and Industry is ready to provide livelihood assistance for the returning OFWs.
He also advised Filipinos to consider China as an alternative employment option saying that Beijing is in need of thousands of English teachers.
With regards to the ongoing Senate inquiry on the controversial frigate project of the Philippine Navy, the President defended his top aide Christopher “Bong” Go saying that he has nothing to do with the warships acquisition deal.
At the same time, the President appealed to the members of Congress to treat Cabinet secretaries, and police and military personnel with utmost respect during legislative investigations.
He said he would not allow legislators to demean or embarass those officials during such inquiries as if they were guilty of misdeeds.
“Huwag lang ninyong babuyin kasi my orders would be: if you are degraded, if you are inflicted with the wounds of your dignity as a person, stand up and go out. If you are arrested, I will object. ‘Pag hindi kayo binitawan, I will go to Congress even alone to get you,” he said.
“And if I die in the process, let it be. Let it be. Because over and above these things, the Constitution individually and collectively protects the Filipino and his dignity,” he added.
The President wrapped up his message by saying that he remains true to his campaign pledges of fighting illegal drugs, corruption and criminality.
He also reiterated his desire to once and for all end the hostilities in Mindanao and secure lasting peace in the region by renewing his commitment to make peace with Muslim rebels.
As to the stalled peace talks with the communists, the President said that Norway, the facilitator for the talks, reached out to him for the possibility of resuming the peace negotiations.
He said he would consult with the military before making a decision on returning to the peace negotiating table.
The CFBCI celebrates its anniversary with the theme: “Partnership for Unity, Prosperity and Love of Country.”
The highlight of the event was the presentation of miniature housing model of Bahay Pagasa Phase II, a housing project of CFBCI that was inspected by President Duterte in Marawi City last January 30, 2018 shortly after the turn over of Bahay Pagasa I last October 2, 2017.
The CFBCI in cooperation with the Tarlac Heritage Foundation threw its support to the government through its Bahay Pagasa Phase II project. This project provides immediate shelter and accomodation for residents displaced by the conflict in Marawi. PND